Workers’ Compensation

Updated OSHA Guidelines for Poultry Processors

The federal government recently updated Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for poultry processing in their brochure ‘Prevention of Musculoskeletal Injuries in Poultry Processing.’  Given that many poultry processing injuries stem from ergonomic issues, OSHA aims to present guidelines to reduce musculoskeletal disorders in poultry workers.  It notes that “a variety of injuries and illnesses…occur from repeated use or overexertion, including:  carpal tunnel syndrome; tendinitis; rotator cuff injuries (a shoulder problem); epicondylitis (an elbow problem); trigger finger; and muscle strains and low back injuries.”  What guidelines does the report present?  The OSHA report recommends strong management support to implement the ergonomics process. It recommends communicating importance of worker safety and health, committing adequate resources to the ergonomics process, and “integrating health and safety concerns ... Read More »

Can workers’ comp just stop making disability payments?

Workers’ comp can stop paying you under certain circumstances. The insurer may stop payments if the worker returns to work, for example. Otherwise, workers must receive a 30-day written notice that explains why the benefits are stopping and explaining that they may file a claim with the workers’ compensation commissioner if they disagree with the stoppage.  Benefits Stop Upon Returning to the Job  The most common circumstance for stopped payments occurs when an employee returns to the job. If a worker in Des Moines suffered a knee injury that kept him out of work for more than seven days, he’ll receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits until able to return to the job. Once he does, his disability payments will stop.  But if that worker ... Read More »

Can workers’ compensation cover treatments like massage and acupuncture as part of my medical treatment?

If an injured worker wishes to undergo acupuncture and/or massage as part of his or her treatment regimen, the injured employee may discuss this with the doctor. The physician may recommend it as helpful and part of the worker’s care and recovery. However, if the doctor does not recommend or approve the treatment as part of the treatment regimen, workers’ comp may not cover it.  Under workers’ compensation law in Iowa, employers must provide medical care for injured Des Moines workers who are hurt in the scope of their employment or who develop a medical condition from exposure in the workplace. They must provide this care as needed to treat the worker’s condition.  Employers may even choose the employee’s medical care, i.e. choose the doctor ... Read More »

Employer Strategies That Negate Workers’ Comp Claims

Although Iowa’s workers’ compensation laws allow employees to recover benefits if injured at work regardless of who is at fault, they still must meet certain requirements.  For instance, an injury must have occurred in the scope of employment or an illness must be have developed because of exposure in the course of employment. Basically, the injury or illness must be work-related. Unfortunately, some employers attempt to disprove employee injury claims to avoid paying.  Employers may negate claims by arguing that the:  injury or illness isn’t work-related; worker is not as injured as he or she claims; worker’s injury or illness is attributable to a pre-existing condition; or worker is not injured at all.  Use of Surveillance Video and Photos to Discredit Claims  Photos and video ... Read More »

Workers’ Compensation & Claims for Coworker Negligence

Most people have to deal with coworkers as they perform their everyday job tasks. Whether your dealings are pleasant or unpleasant, coworkers can offer vital assistance that can promote your workplace safety.  Coworkers can:  assist or guide you as you perform dangerous tasks; help move heavy objects; and operate heavy and dangerous machinery.  Even people not involved in physically taxing work depend on coworkers to help maintain a safe environment. For example, following protocol in picking up boxes of paper, operating basic office equipment, and keeping the workplace free of noisy distractions and clutter all help ensure safety.  When a coworker is the cause of your work accident, though, it makes sense to want to hold him or her responsible. However, to do so the ... Read More »

Can I file a workers’ comp claim for chemical injuries if there were warnings in the work area?

In Des Moines, there were four Emergency Response Notification System (ERNS) incidents in 2012 (work-related or not) involving chemicals and other harmful substances. Because of the serious injuries these accidents can cause, the stakes are high for victims of ERNS incidents.  Workers’ compensation covers all injuries that occur in the scope of employment regardless of fault, except in limited conditions like when the employee is intoxicated. So if you were hurt at work because of chemical exposure, you can pursue a workman’s compensation claim regardless of fault and regardless of whether warning signs were present.  If you’re filing for workers’ comp, be sure that you receive a fair evaluation from the employer-chosen doctor. Long-term effects on your health and ability to work are important in ... Read More »

Who makes decisions on a workers’ compensation appeal?

Different professionals can make decisions in workers’ compensation appeals depending on where the claimant is in the appeals process. After a workers’ compensation insurer denies or reduces an employee’s claim, the employee can file a petition for arbitration with the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner (IWCC).  There is a discovery phase that commences before the hearing which is also known as a trial. In the discovery phase, the parties exchange physical evidence and interrogatory (questions the other party has to answer) requests. Also, depositions may take place before the hearing. Hearings with a Deputy Commissioner (who is also known as an ALJ/Administrative Law Judge) are similar to lawsuit hearings before other judges. ALJs interpret listen to and decide the evidence along with making rulings on government administrative ... Read More »

Can I file for workman’s comp in Iowa if the injury occurs while I am traveling for business out of state or overseas?

Yes, generally, workers can file claims for an injury that they sustain during the scope of their employment when out of state or overseas, provided they meet certain standards for eligibility. For example, if an employee based in Des Moines is traveling to another state for a client meeting, and is struck by a car while walking from the hotel to the meeting, the injuries the employee sustains are covered under workers’ compensation.  There are some limits to the “scope of employment” rule. Travels between an employee’s home and place of business are not covered under workers’ compensation’s “coming and going” rule. When employees travel, activities that are outside the scope of employment, like going out for recreation after normal work hours, for example, are ... Read More »

Does your employer have workers’ compensation insurance? How can you be sure?

If you’re injured at work, your employer’s workers’ comp insurer pays for your medical expenses and provides disability benefits. The vast majority of employers in Iowa are required to carry insurance policies to secure your right to workers’ compensation payments. But how do you know that your employer is following the law? What should you do if you’re unsure your employer is carrying appropriate insurance? Which employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance?  Every employer in the state of Iowa is required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance on behalf of their employees, unless that employer is specifically exempted. The employers who do not have to maintain insurance are very limited, though. Even if a company is not based in Iowa, the employer will still ... Read More »

Will I have to attend a hearing for my workers’ comp claim in Des Moines?

If you were injured at work, and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you may be confused about what happens next. Do you need to go to court? Will you appear in front of a judge? Do you need an attorney?  Workers’ compensation claims are filed with the Division of Workers’ Compensation in Des Moines. Most claims do not require a hearing, but some will if there is a dispute. If you have been injured at work and are worried about what happens after you file your claim, read on to learn what you can expect in a workers’ compensation hearing.  When do workers’ compensation claims require a hearing?  After filing your initial petition for disability benefits, your employer, your employer’s insurance and your ... Read More »

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